The fact that the club only had one entrance didn’t seem to worry Guido. The fire officer should have been worried but the certificate above Guido’s desk assured Guido’s insurers that the club complied with regulations. That had cost Guido the price of a Mediterranean holiday and use of his villa for two weeks by the fire officer’s family. But it was cheaper than making the place safe.
The stairway into the club was secured by steel doors top and bottom, and by two bouncers with restless fists and no sense of humour at street level. Just inside the outer door was a ticket booth come cloakroom where a nervous looking gaunt man, who Clarissa had been introduced to as Simon, dispensed admission through a tiny grilled aperture.
A self-satisfied Guido sat in his booth, a girl either side of him, Champagne on ice. The seating was upholstered in red, trimmed with gold. Like everything in Guido’s life he liked ostentation in his wine, women and ambience. Subtlety had been Tipexed out of his dictionary. It was now past eleven and the club was full of customers drinking Guido’s over-priced spirits and watery beer. His contented smirk disappeared when he saw Clarissa leading Sarah across the club to the exit.
“Where the fuck are you taking her?” demanded Guido.
“Outside, she’s says she’s going to throw up. I thought she could do with some fresh air” Clarissa smiled with as much innocence as she could muster.
“Oh, alright, just so long as she doesn’t throw up on the punters.”
Clarissa and Sarah slipped out of the inner doors and up to the ticket booth. Clarissa tapped on the door. “Simon, let us in it’s Clarissa and Sarah.”. Three bolts were drawn back and the door opened. Clarissa liked Simon, he reminded her of her brother. She hadn’t seen him for months …
“Simon, Guido said I should relieve you on the door, he said you’d had a hard week and should take the rest of the evening off.” Explained Clarissa.
“Is he feeling OK? He’s never given me the evening off.”
“Don’t complain, just go, enjoy yourself.” Laughed Clarissa. With a “See ya” Simon was gone
Clarissa turned towards Sarah and pulled her close. “Did you enjoy our little tryst earlier?”
“What do you think? I’m still tingling.”
Clarissa slid her arms around Sarah, one hand travelling up the back of her neck and into Sarah’s hair.
“Good, because I’m going to enjoy myself a little later. But first I want you to do something for me.” Clarissa pulled Sarah to her, their lips were millimetres apart.
“What’s that?” Asked Sarah, her words shaking with excitement.
Clarissa pulled back Sarah’s head and plunged her teeth into her neck. Sarah screamed. The universe stopped for a moment, time frozen for them both, the world around them blurred and shimmered. Her scream died on her lips, blood flowed from the two gaping wounds in her neck, her life became a memory as her heart beat raced, faltered, then stopped.
In ninety brief seconds it was over, Clarissa lay Sarah’s body in the inky darkness at the back of the booth and returned to the club.
Clarissa slipped into the first private room, unnoticed by the three clients and waited for the girl to finish her performance. She walked into the glare of the spotlight as the pole dancer lowered herself down the chromed pole and came to rest on the floor.
“Gentlemen”, she announced to the unseen audience outside the pool of light she and the girl now inhabited “You’ll be getting a further free dance, courtesy of the management. Just a moment while Amelia catches her breath.”
“What?” Breathed Amelia under her breath. “So Guido is doing a two for the price of one day?”
“He’s paying.” Replied Clarissa, he just doesn’t know it yet she thought to herself. “Amelia come here a moment.” Clarissa stepped into the shadows, Amelia followed. “Let me explain …”
Two minutes later Clarissa left the private room, closed the door and held the handle.
She waited, listening. She heard the sounds of a scuffle, a protestation, a strangled scream. Someone tried to turn the door handle from inside, frantically they hammered on the door. Then a man’s voice “Let me out! What is she?. Aaaargh!” The voice dissolved into a gurgle.
Clarissa licked her lips tasting Amelia’s blood on them. She then visited each of the remaining private rooms in turn to deliver the management’s free gift.
“Where are you?” It was Timothy calling her from across the city. The words rang in her mind.
“So they’re sending you to despatch me? To undo the damage you did?”
“You’re not going to comply with The Code?” The regret in his thought was palpable.
“What do you think?”
“That’s a shame, you would have made eternity bearable.” Timothy managed to utter the whole sentence as a sigh.
“Cut the crap.” Clarissa chuckled. “I’ll still be at the Pink Kitty at midnight.”
Timothy arrived outside the club a few minutes before the witching hour. He abhorred lateness. The door staff’s challenge to his entry left one unconscious on the pavement and the other flying down the stairway into the club, stopping only when his head crashed into the door. His body slumped down the painted steel leaving a viscous trail of blood, bone and mangled soft tissue.
The music in the club stopped as Timothy strode through the door. No one spoke.
“Who’s this fucking joker?” Guido strode towards Timothy.
Timothy grabbed Guido by the neck and peered into his now terrified eyes. “Moron” said Timothy, flatly. He twisted his wrist, a swift sudden flick. There was a dull crack and Guido’s body hung limp in Timothy’s hand.
The room was silent except for the whimpering of Guido’s two favourite girls who attempted to hide behind one another. Guido’s corpse fell to the floor.
“Tim! I was looking forward to killing him.” Admonished Clarissa.
“Clarissa, this is your last chance. Will you comply to The Code?”
“No.” Clarissa answered and simultaneously realised that her whole existence pivoted around that one word. “So you’ll be despatching me then? Do you think you can?”
“No.” replied Timothy. “You’re too strong.”
There were footsteps on the stairs outside. Clarissa backed away as she saw the eight Others join Timothy. They began to back her into a corner, Clarissa snarling like a cornered animal, her composure apparently deserting her. Her eyes darted from one face to another, hands clenching and unclenching unsure what to do.
The old female member of the Others from her meeting earlier in the day stepped forward “You know we have to do this. But we’ll make it quick, that’s why we all came. It’ll be easier for you.”
Clarissa relaxed and smiled at her would be executioners. “I thought you might, which is why I recruited a little help myself.”
The Others looked around at the customers in the club. Yellow eyes glinted in the darkness and began to move towards the nine. A dozen pairs of hands grasped at each of the assassins and one by one their faces became submerged under a writhing mass of clawing hands and ripping teeth.
“Timothy I remember you telling me that you feared the newly turned because you can’t use your powers on them, they’re too raw, too wild.” Explained Clarissa to Tim’s pleading face as it receded into the morass. “But they do have their uses.”
She walked around the edge of the club, avoiding the growing pool of blood and severed limbs. The screams of The Others began to mingle with the now vampiric customers in the club as they turned on one another in their killing frenzy. She pulled shut the inner and outer steel doors, locking them with Guido’s keys and with Sarah in her arms she melted into the night.
Clarissa sat in the park and held Sarah’s lifeless body for hours. The chill of the night warm in comparison to the intense burning cold of Sarah’s flesh. Sarah was far away, her soul a flickering ember that even Clarissa struggled to sense.
Eventually the sky began to grow brighter, a gentle glow grew around them both, sunlight scattered in the upper atmosphere filling the sky. An autumn mist swirled around them, softening the outlines of the buildings at the edge of the park to silhouetted charcoal monoliths against the brightening dawn.
Clarissa looked down at Sarah, a light was intensifying inside her, pulsing, growing, changing hue with every moment. First it filled her then seeped out into the surrounding air, its luminous filigree tendrils wrapping themselves around Clarissa.
Sarah opened her eyes.
“Good morning.” Smiled Clarissa.
“Is it over?” Asked Sarah.
Clarissa laughed. “Oh, no it’s only just beginning.”